The agreements are arrived at through a series of negotiating 'rounds', which are named after the location where the talks take place. The current round of talks are known as the Doha Round after Doha Qatar and include negotiations on goods, services, and intellectual property.
In 1947, several nations came together in the post World War II environment to remove protectionist tariffs and foster international trade co-operation. GATT has never been recognised as an official international organisation and refers only to the body of agreements among its member nations. GATT's primary mechanism for regulating and stimulating international trade has been tariff reduction and elimination. "In the late forties, the average duty on industrial products imposed by developing countries was around 40 per cent ad valorem. As a result of the Uruguay Round and the previous Rounds, the average duty is as low as 3.9 per cent" (United Nations Conference 2003, p.45). While GATT experienced much success through the reduction of tariffs, many nations remained reluctant to enter into agreements that addressed other aspects of trade.
The initial agreements were successful not only by freezing and reducing tariffs; they also discouraged the formation of preferential trade agreements. GATT was based on the concept of the "Unconditional Most Favored Nation" (MFN) status. ...Show more